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Applying the ‘CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance’ to ecology and biodiversity research

Indigenous Peoples are increasingly being sought out for research partnerships that incorporate Indigenous Knowledges into ecology research. In such research partnerships, it is essential that Indigenous data are cared for ethically and responsibly. Here we outline how the ‘CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance’ can sow community ethics into disciplines that are inundated with extractive helicopter research practices, and we provide standardized practices for evolving data and research landscapes.

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Fig. 1: The CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance.


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We thank our community experts who have informed this scholarship by sharing their needs and concerns, and the Indigenous stewards across generations who have protected our sacred ecosystems. We acknowledge the teams at the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance, the Research Data Alliance International Indigenous Data Sovereignty Interest Group and Te Kotahi Research Institute, whose input informed this scholarship.

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Authors and Affiliations



L.J., T.A., A.M., R.S., D.D.C., I.G., M.H., N.A.G. and S.R.C. contributed to writing, editing, and reviewing the paper and Table 1. L.J, T.A., A.M., M.H. and S.R.C. conceived the idea for the paper. L.J. led the writing. A.M. designed the original version of the figure. L.J and S.R.C. conceptualized Table 1.

Positionality statement: L.J. is a citizen of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Huichol (Wixárika); raised in Tewa lands of northern New Mexico and now living in O’odham and Yaqui lands of southern Arizona as a postdoctoral researcher with the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance. She researches soil health and environmental justice. T.A. is a non-Indigenous, white graduate student living on O’odham and Yaqui lands at the University of Arizona in the School of Geography, Development and Environment. She researches how climate change and variability affect ecosystems and communities through collaborative knowledge production. A.M. is a citizen of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He is also Yaqui and Diegueno/lipay with family from the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County, California. He is a research specialist with the Native Nations Institute and coordinator with the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance. R.S. is an interdisciplinary Pākehā researcher of ngāti Maeatae/Stirlingshire (Scottish) descent living on the lands of Waikato-Tainui. They are based at Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, and specialize in human rights and identity privacy and well-being. They are reclaiming the cultural being as hermaphrodite/Scayte. D.D.C. is multicultural Indigenous Caribbean (Arawak Taíno) carrying Indigenous Boricua, African, Spanish and East European ancestry. She is director of the Indigenous Land & Data Stewards Lab, and Assistant Professor of Indigenous Natural Resource Stewardship at Colorado State University’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department, working in partnership with the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance. I.G. is Karai-Karai (northern Nigeria) and is an assistant research professor (Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health) and senior researcher (Native Nations Institute) at the University of Arizona. His research considers the governance implications of collective rights for research ethics and international law. M.H. is of Māori descent (Whakatōhea, Ngāruahine, Ngā Puhi) and is the director of the Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato. He is a co-founder of the Global Indigenous Data Alliance, a co-author of the ‘CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance’, and a co-director of Local Contexts. N.A.G. is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. She is an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and conducts research pertaining to ethical, legal and social issues in genomics for Indigenous Peoples. S.R.C. is Dene/Ahtna, a citizen of the Native Village of Kluti-Kaah in Alaska, and of Sicilian descent and lives in Chukson on O’odham and Yaqui lands. She is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. S.R.C. directs the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance, co-edited the book Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Policy and co-led the publication of the ‘CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance’.

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Correspondence to Lydia Jennings.

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Jennings, L., Anderson, T., Martinez, A. et al. Applying the ‘CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance’ to ecology and biodiversity research. Nat Ecol Evol 7, 1547–1551 (2023).

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